Avatar Bumper Cars to receive online play

We have had some great news from Torturas, Avatar Bumper Cars is getting a major update. This is going to include an online mode.
Avatar Bumper Cars is a great little game, but there is no doubt that unless you have a friend to play against locally, it is going to have a short shelf life.

Well not anymore, with the promise of the online mode this is going to be a game that will keep you coming back for more. There is no confirmed date for the upgrade yet, but we’ll be sure to let you know more when we do. So in the mean time give the demo a go, it’s free after all.

Game description:Avatar Bumper Cars is a 1-4 player arena battle game. Watch your avatar take control of a bumper car in one of 5 different arenas and face off against either your friends or the computer in an action packed battle! Use your car’s spikes to hit their gas cans and send them flying out of the arena. Will you be the last man standing?

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Mid-Week Gamer Update

Microsoft Block Party Free Avatar Items
To celebrate the “Block Party” promotion (including the games Toy Soldiers, Scrap Metal, Perfect Dark, and the Game Room), a free Avatar Prop, a BBQ Grill, is being given away for a limited time.  The code is multi-use, but will eventually expire, so use it today!

BBQ Grill Prop – 9XBX9-9RCD9-9BCK9-9PRTY-9RCKZ

Likewise, some free clothes are available for your avatar in the same limited sense.  To snag a free “Bing!” Tee, just pick your gender:

Male Shirt – PHT9P-KXR4Y-BB6BY-VFMPD-THT4T
Female Shirt – VFH6P-9FJKK-KKP9G-H4DRH-WTCFM

Enjoy!


Toy Soldiers, the flagship title for Xbox’s Block Party event, was released to great fanfare and fantastic reviews.  Now that the month of March is winding down, I won’t inundate you with another 5-star review of this 5-star game. Instead of focusing on my perspective, I’ll focus on a silent killer of XBLA and XBLIG: game longevity.  It is no secret that mere weeks after launch, XBLA and XBLIG games can have trouble holding onto their online audience; gamers get bored, try the next best thing, or simply complete the game to their satisfaction.  If that is so, then why bother buying an expired and outdated game?  Well, for those worrying about this, I’ve got good news.

Thankfully, none of that yet holds true for Toy Soldiers.  If you missed picking up this blockbuster on launch, you still have the opportunity to enjoy a strong online community – just minutes before posting, I was able to get into an online skirmish on the first try with less than fifteen seconds of waiting.   Take the opportunity to try this gem today!

Download a demo here.

Watch a video clip here.


In the XBLIG scene, Asphalt Jungle, a game previously and favourably reviewed on this site, has been updated, including new & improved graphics, and an “Awardment” system to encourage longer and more creative play.  Try the game out if you haven’t already!

Download a free trial of the game here.


Speaking of asphalt, the MotorHEAT contest is still going strong, and is now up to 13 “1600 MSPoint” cards being given away with 8 days left!  Get on the asphalt and show your stuff!


Finally, to round out your lucky odds, be sure to enter into our contest for a copy of myFishtank.  Read our spotlight on Avatar Cannon and Avatar Rockets to find out how!


Here’s hoping the rest of the week is as exciting!

MotorHEAT Contest Update – XBLIG

To keep everyone updated about the MotorHEAT contest that Milkstone Studios is running, here is the latest:

To date, 11 “1600 MS Point” cards have been purchased with the proceeds from game purchasers during the contest period, and a total of 1002 entrants have tried their luck.  With 11 days remaining, try out MotorHEAT!  Remember, the more games that sell, the more prizes they give out as the profits are spun right back into the community gamers!

Read our review of the game here.

Read about the contest here.

Watch the trailer here.

Download a demo of the game here.

Avatar Review Roundup – XBLIG Review AND Giveaway

Lighthouse Games Studio is quietly becoming a master of the Flash-esque “Fun for a few rounds every now and then” casual gameplay that has brought numerous Flash portals all over the internet such fame and attention. But instead of being a browser-based crew, they operate in the realm of XBLIG, which means that we can put the spotlight on them.  Today we have the opportunity to review not one, but two of their games, and if you stick with the review, you can earn yourself a free redemption code for a third game of theirs.

A WDesm double-dose for XBoxHornet

“Great way to have a little fun ‘blast’!”

Avatar Cannon is a simple game with a simple premise: Take your avatar, aim the cannon, fire the cannon, and watch ‘er fly.  Depending on your skill (luck), your avatar will interact with various African fauna, which will drastically extend the distance you cover.  A total of three launches are given to you, and the sum of your adventures is placed on a global leaderboard.

Your hard work and effort is rewarded in-game with small rewards via completing the “Awardments”, which is always a nice encouragement, and there’s even an Awardment (“Fan Boy”) that can be gained only by looking at their studio page, so be sure to give that a click.  The rewards will assist you in getting a higher score, so keep at it, and you’ll be sure to climb the leaderboards easily enough!

Avatar Cannon isn’t a “sit down, play for 10 hours” game – it’s straight-forward, fun, casual, but there’s little meat on the bones.  It may, however, fit in a very sweet spot when you have five minutes to kill waiting for a DLC, movie, or game to download, and you can always push yourself to unlock just a few more of its gimmicks.

Download a demo of the game here.


“A SECOND way to blast away time with your Avatar”

Avatar Rockets is our second feature by Lighthouse Games Studio, and, dare I say, the better of the double-feature.  The principle is much the same: With a little skill and a lot of luck, waste a few minutes firing your avatar off into the unknown.  In the case of Avatar Cannon, it was a horizontal flight with animals acting as further propulsion.  In Avatar Rockets, it is a vertical adventure, and seemingly-randomly spawned fuel pods are what you have to aim for.

The game doesn’t include Awardments, unlike Avatar Cannon, but does include a small amount of customization: A bevy of spaceships await for you, as well as the option to use a simple painter to paint your own design.  Additionally, unlike, the exclusively single-player adventure of Avatar Cannon, where the only inter-person competition is on the leaderboard, Avatar Rockets includes Xbox Live Party support, with either public or private matches, so that you can show your friends up and reach for the stars.  Ultimately, much like Avatar Cannon, however, this game will serve better as an intermittent and occasional time waster, and not the primary focus of a gaming session.  Avatar Rockets also has the bonus of being 1/3rd the cost of Avatar Cannon, which, when you’re looking for a casual time-waster, can be a selling feature.

Download a demo of the game here.


Both of the games looked at above are good ways to goof off with your avatar, although they do have limited longevity and are a tad skinny on features.  Fortunately, not all of Lighthouse Games Studio’s offerings are designed for ten-minute bursts, and today, we’re going to give away a redemption code for myFishtank, an app XboxHornet reviewed back last May.  To enter, simply leave a comment below stating which you prefer: Avatar Rockets or Avatar Cannon, and why.  A winner will be chosen next Saturday (March 27th, 2010).

Yet Another Zombie Defence – XBLIG Review

A Wargamer review for XboxHornet

With the growing trend in zombie games, do we really need yet another zombie defense game? The opinions are mixed; some people just can’t get enough of them, yet others think the zombie market is saturated. From AwesomeGamesStudio, here is ‘Yet Another Zombie Defense Game’.

With the word defense in the title, you might be expecting a zombie tower defense game. This is definitely not. It’s actually more of a 3D dual stick shooter with an option to set up auto turrets. You could almost call it a hybrid dual stick turret defense game. The gameplay is quite a simple to understand – play as a survivor defending against waves of zombies.

Waves are considered as ‘nights’. Survive as many nights as you can and gain a high score. At the start of each night, the toughness, damage, and speed of the zombies increase. Completing a night grants you the option of buying weapons, barricades, and mountable auto turrets. Occasionally, a killed zombie will drop cash, ammo, and health. Either save your cash for a better weapon and ammo for yourself, or buy barricades and auto turrets to defend against the horde of zombies. Your basic weapon is a pistol, but pretty quickly you’ll want to buy something better. A few weapons available to buy are an uzi, shotgun, flamethrower, rocket launcher, sniper, and laser, among other things. When buying an auto turret, you may mount any gun you posses. Keep in mind though; you cannot hold a weapon that is already mounted on the turret.

The zombies move like you’d except, but visually, you would think they were just normal people. Occasionally there are new zombies with different colour clothes, but each zombie has the same shape. That isn’t so much an issue though as the game is about defending yourself for as long as you can. If you want a game with lots of blood, you won’t be disappointed. Each shot a zombie takes, blood is splattered on the pavement below.

As it is a dark zombie defense game, the music isn’t as dark and atmospheric as you’d expect. It does however fit the style of game as you defend against multiple zombies. It’s mostly a hard-hitting rock beat with an underlining guitar riff.

Although the concept is simple, playing the game is no walk in the park. The area available is quite big, but you’ll always be near the light in the center simply because the game is very dark. You do have an option to brighten the game, but it doesn’t provide the right tone. The one thing the game is clearly missing is co-op. How can you have a zombie game without co-op? It isn’t a big deal, but it’s always fun to mow down zombies with a friend. For 80 points, it’s quite a fun game to get your zombie killing fix. There are better zombie games on the market, but for what it offers, it’s hard not to add it to your collection.

Rating: 6/10 for a difficult, yet decent dual stick zombie shooter

Download a trial of the game here.

Abduction Action! – Preview + Interview

A WDesm exclusive for XBoxHornet

The hits just keep on coming ’round these parts.  We managed to snag an exclusive interview with Kris Steele of Fun Infused Games about his upcoming release, Abduction Action! for XBLIG, and we also talk a little about his past release, Nasty, a very sweet-and-under-appreciated platformer.  Hang on tight kids, and enjoy the ride!

WD: To those unfamiliar with your upcoming game, can you explain Abduction Action!’s gameplay?

FI: Abduction Action! casts you as an aspiring UFO pilot visiting Earth for the first time and more than ready to cause a little havoc. You must use the tractor beam of your UFO to pickup Earthlings and other objects in order to complete a series of tasks given to you by your superiors. Tasks you must complete include things like abducting five cows, dropping rocks on angry jocks, or going toe-to-toe with a police helicopter.

While you can exclusively work through the Story Mode, the game also has a sort of Grand Theft Auto vibe, meaning that many gamers will probably have just as much fun tossing around Earthlings, dropping objects on them, etc. as they would completing the Story Mode missions.

WD: How many hours of gameplay should gamers be expecting?  Is there much replayability?

FI: I believe there is a lot of gameplay in Abduction Action!, more than enough to make the game well worth your 80 Microsoft Points. The normal game (story mode) features five levels with 6 to 10 tasks each. I expect it will take the average gamer several hours to master and complete each of these levels. There is also a Score Attack mode that gives you one life as you try and progress through all the game’s enemies and obtain the highest score.

Additionally I believe a lot of gamers will simply find enjoyment in starting any level and tossing some Earthlings around just for the fun of it.

WD: Your company, Fun Infused Games, has also released Nasty, a shooter/platformer for XBLIG.  How is Abduction Action! similar/different from Nasty, and what skills were transferable to the new game?

FI: Both games are 2D games and have some similar artistic stylings, but they don’t share much else after that. Nasty plays much more like a platformer with guns while Abduction Action! has you flying through the sky and forces you to be more creative to dispatch enemies and complete levels. Overall Abduction Action! gives you more freedom in what you can do. Nasty had a ton of levels (100) but the five levels in Abduction Action! are much larger and have a lot more to do in each.

WD: What first inspired you to create games, and what has inspired Abduction Action! and Nasty?

FI: At a very young age, I fell in love with gaming. I grew up playing lots of Commodore 64 games and later transitioned to the NES. I really enjoyed the NES / SNES / Genesis years and those style of games have been the ones that I have really wanted to make.

Nasty was largely inspired by Bubble Bobble and Contra… the game plays like you have the Contra characters stuck inside the levels of Bubble Bobble. I’ve always really enjoyed co-op games and feel that they’re underrepresented today, so creating a game that allowed this was also one of my goals.

With Abduction Action!, it started with the idea of having a game that involved Abducting Earthlings. I’ve always had an interest in UFOs and other unexplained phenomenon and thought this would be an interesting concept to explore.

WD: How long was the development time for Abduction Action!?

FI: It’s been about eight months in development now, ever since the day after I put Nasty up for review. It was my intention to have this released last December, but I expanded the initial concept from just abducting Earthlings to include many more varied tasks and put another month or so into just polishing the game after it was essentially completed. The game plays and looks a lot better due to the extra time I spent on it.

WD: Why are gamers going to get hooked on Abduction Action!?

FI: The core concept alone is different from anything else gamers have played and is very fun. The in-game characters also show a lot of personality, gamers will get a kick out of picking up Earthlings just to hear what they scream as you lift them up and drop them to their demise.

WD: Have you found the XNA/XBLIG coding experience enjoyable and worthwhile?  Why or why not?

FI: Coding in XNA has been great, really easy to get into and there are a lot of good tutorials/examples that can be found online to help out (along with a lot of great people in the community willing to lend a hand).

Financially my first game Nasty hasn’t done as well as I would have liked. I believe it’s a game people would really enjoy but I initially priced it too high and it has faded into obscurity in-part because of that. Regardless, I enjoyed making Nasty and learned a lot in the process, including some mistakes I hope to avoid for my second release.

WD: Nasty has received patches post-release, and your Nasty homepage even has a poll for which feature gamers most want to see Nasty get next update.  Do you intend to give the same long-term loving to Abduction Action! ?

FI: Yes I do. I want to give gamers the best game I can and listening to their feedback is the best way to do that. Nasty is a much better game now then when it was released because of changes that I have made based on feedback from gamers and I fully intend on using the same approach not just with Abduction Action! but also with releases after that.

I also feel improving my games is a good way to give back to gamers who purchased my games and to renew interest in previously released games that may otherwise be collecting dust.

WD: As a game dev, what do you think are the most effective tools for attracting and retaining fans?  With all the possible ways to focus attention (high quality presentation, invasive marketing, addictive gameplay, bug-free gameplay, etc), you must have to pick and choose favorites.

FI: The most important thing is to make good games. Gamers know what is fun and it doesn’t take fancy graphics or elaborate marketing plans have a fun game. The core concept of your game must be solid and enjoyable and heavily polished. It should be fun all around and it is important for it to be free of any buggy behavior, as that will quickly pull a gamer out of the reality the game creates.

WD: What is your opinion on the use of various ‘bonus’ features (online leaderboards, DLC ‘hidden’ in title patches, avatar support, badges/awards, unlockables, etc) in XBLIG games?  Do they significantly add to the game’s quality, or simply bog down development time and add more opportunities for things to go awry?

FI: As a gamer, I’m personally not all that interested in most of these features but as a game developer, I realize that many gamers are. With Xbox Live Indie Game titles, we’re at a bit of a disadvantage to Xbox Live Arcade games as we aren’t given the option of true leader boards, gamer scores, achievements, downloadable content, so we have to make due best we can (for instance using peer-to-peer methods to share high scores or create local ‘Awardment’ systems). Implementing these features can be a fair amount of work for what feels like only a marginal benefit, but if the style of your game fits, I think they can be important to include.

Avatars are a bit of a different story… Gamers seem to like them a lot and Xbox Live Indie Games are in a position to take advantage of them more-so than Xbox Live Arcade Games (shorter time to market, less risk in making the games means we’ve got more liberty to try new things with Avatars). I haven’t personally delved much into Avatar usage but it is something that I’ll be looking into for future games.

Thanks Kris!  I know that I’m certainly looking forward to some cow-throwing, and I can only wonder what you mean by the “Realistic UFO flight” comment on your website.  Thanks again to Fun Infused Games for taking the time to answer our questions, and keep tuning in for even more previews, interviews, reviews, and contests!

View a trailer of Abduction Action! here.

MotorHEAT – XBLIG review

A WDesm review for XBoxHornet

“Fantastic.  Simply Fantastic.”

Milkstone Studios has managed to hit upon that je ne sais quoi that can make a racing game so addictive.  MotorHEAT is a fantastic hybrid of adrenaline-fueled speed and simplistic gameplay that hooks you for the long (and fast) haul.

The gameplay is simple and straight-forward: You are in a start-of-the-art car, and you can drive really fast.  You drive at irresponsible speeds, wildly swerving through traffic, and the longer you can keep it up, the better score you get.  A ‘boost’ bar serves to make things even more ludicrous, and your boost bar can be recharged by narrowly missing a collision with another vehicle.

Extra speed and bonus points for nearly crashing? Yikes.

Points are scored based on your current multiplier, which slowly increases the longer you avoid a collision, and points-earning can be augmented by a variety of power-ups that spawn randomly – from the simple ‘bonus points’ or ‘bonus multiplier’ to the nearly-game-breaking temporary invincibility (hint: since collision detection is disabled under invincibility, you actually want to AIM for cars while holding down the boost button).  The gameplay starts off hectic, and as you start to swerve past and around the walls of cars, it becomes a desperate bid to move fast enough to finish the ‘level’ – the length of a lap – before the clock runs to zero.  Your ranking, always displayed in the bottom-left corner, is an automatically-updated connection to global leaderboards, telling you how far behind the next-best in the world.

With all of the ways that points and levels and scores are tallied, the game certainly encourages intense and reckless speeding, although I actually found the gameplay rather zen-like after a while.  No matter the visibility (which changes each level to include different times of day, as well as weather), you will always be able to make out those deadly brakelights or tantalizing power-ups, and that simple game mechanic never changes.  Milkstone Studios has found that perfect concoction of ‘easy to enjoy, fun to play, but difficult to master’, although  I might be cursing them later as I try to desperately claw past the 100,000,000-score supergiants already on the leaderboard.

Despite the game mechanics being relatively simple, meat was certainly added to the bones to ensure gamers got their money’s worth.  The game includes superficial car customization, which, while primarily for your own amusement, is reflected on your leaderboard runs, and the game includes a full set of badges/awards, seamlessly integrated into the gameplay in the same way a full retail title would.  Speaking of full retail titles…well, see if you can catch the reference to one in the badges.  Much like the game it alludes to, you’ll be working on that one for a while.  And early adopters will appreciate one badge in particular – complete a run in the top 5% of the global leaderboard.  The fewer players on the leaderboard, the easier that one should be.

Overall, I can’t really recommend MotorHEAT enough.  The game is a well polished example of the sort of game XBLIG needs more of, and if you pick it up soon enough, you’ll have a sweet chance at earning some awesome prizes in the Milkstone Studios Contest they currently have running.  I haven’t felt so enamoured with high speed collisions since I first played Burnout Paradise.  My wish list for this one is short: with awards, online leaderboards, and customization, Milkstone really tried to stack the game with everything, but why don’t we have a splitscreen co-op mode?

Game Score 9.5/10

Download a demo here.

Watch the trailer here.

Learn about the contest here.